x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

What's it like ... to play polo with Prince Charles

It was about 15 years ago in England. I was playing a lot of high goal polo at the time and it was a very great honour to take to the field with him.

I have played polo all over the world, maybe in 12 or 13 countries and in some of the world's biggest tournaments, but the one memory that really stands out was being invited to play in a match with Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. It was about 15 years ago in England. I was playing a lot of high goal polo at the time and it was a very great honour to take to the field with him. When I saw him on his pony, I couldn't believe I was there. It was my dream come true.

He is a great sportsman and was an accomplished player, I remember. I also remember being far more nervous than I would normally have been because I was playing alongside Prince Charles. I also felt I had more responsibility because I wanted to play my best. I don't remember the score, but I do recall that we got to the final of that particular tournament. He wasn't afraid to get right into the thick of it in a ride-off and when he was fouled he made sure that everyone knew about it.

It was so much fun. He was very kind to my wife and me and we were invited to have dinner with him and his family afterwards. He was a lovely man and it is an experience that will always stay with me. But polo has given me so much. This sport is my life and especially in Argentina, where I am from, polo is in the blood. We are around the sport from a young age and there are so many good players there. My family has a farm north-east of Buenos Aires and we breed and train polo ponies so I was never going to do anything else.

Thanks to polo I played in the US, Europe, Asia, everywhere really. Polo has also allowed me to come to Abu Dhabi where I am based at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club and I can honestly say this is the best facility I have seen. The fields are top-rate and we have 200 skilled polo ponies from Argentina. What impressed me most is the dedication that the Emirati players who train here show. They come every day and play to a very high standard.

Hugo Barabucci, 42, is a seven-goal polo player, who has been based at Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club for seven years. He took a year out in 2009 to continue his playing career and is back this year in his role as polo professional at the club. sports@thenational.ae